Project records the work of the Royal Observer Corps

by Alastair Hamilton -

Art projects and exhibitions, usually featuring the work of Shetland's many practising artists, are always popular in Shetland, and several have been on show recently.

Recount is a multimedia project by Roxanne Permar and Susan Timmins, both of whom hail from across the Atlantic but are long-time Shetland residents.

It looks at the work of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC), effectively a detachment of the RAF which, having been briefly stood down after the Second World War, was quickly re-established when Cold War threats emerged.

Their post-war role involved keeping a watch during the period when international nuclear tension was at its greatest. Had there been a nuclear attack, the observers would have monitored radioactive fallout in their area. More than 1,500 underground bunkers were built right across the UK; four were in Shetland.

Roxanne and Susan have interviewed many of those who served in the ROC and they've gathered together a range of memorabilia. They've also covered three of the bunkers in specially-woven fabric decorated with words taken from the ROC's instruction manuals; the words are created in glow-in-the-dark material, so that they are visible at night, and the recorded voices of the ROC members are played on the site, with all the documentary material and the sound recordings available in the nearest public hall. The website offers sound recordings and photographs, too.

All in all, it's a very impressive and thought-provoking piece of work.